• Published 2nd May 2016
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The Last Impressionist - CrackedInkWell



On the way home one night, Fancy Pants discovers a painting of extraordinary quality being thrown away in the trash in the poorer part of Canterlot. Curious, Fancy discovers a depressed artist who's down on his luck named Acrylic Brush.

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Chapter 9: The Unfinished Double Portrait

Although Mr. Brush still continued on with his duties as before, I couldn’t help but notice that he seemed to carry a gray mood about him. For several days I don’t think I’ve seen him smile at all, even when he was painting. In the dining room, he would pass around the food and pour the drinks, but he refuses to look at me.

I confess that I’m starting to get worried about him, with only a day to go before I surprise Acrylic of the exhibition, I’ve decided to call in my butler to talk with him after breakfast.

He came into the study, “You wished to see me, sir?”

“Gustav, do come in, I want to speak with you for a moment.”

Closing the door behind him, he stepped forward, “What about?

“Tell me, how is Mr. Brush doing downstairs?”

“Starting from when?”

“When we returned from Ponyville,” I clarified.

“Ah,” he nodded, “I would say that he’s been very quiet, and wouldn’t say about anything except concerning about his chores and paintings. I would say that it looks like he has a lot on his mind, sir.”

“Is he angry at me?”

“Sir?”

“Have I offended him somehow? He wouldn’t look at me even if we were in the same room. And he wouldn’t say anything to me other than ‘Yes or no sir.’ Have you heard anypony sense any dissatisfaction from him?”

Gustav thought for a moment, “Not as far as I’m aware of. Although he did look rather down lately, of course no one knows why. But he has asked me if he could have some time off this afternoon, saying that he has some business to take care of.”

“Did he say where he was going?”

“Afraid no, he was rather vague about it. He’s in his room painting last time I’ve seen him.”

“Very well. While you’re here, could you inform the kitchen that they don’t have to worry about me during Lunch that I’ll be going out to speak with a reporter this afternoon?”

“Very good sir,” Gustav nodded.

“Also, when Acrylic is done painting, could he bring it up so I could have it photographed.”

“As you wish,” he bowed before he left, leaving me behind to gather up my notes for the upcoming interview.

About an hour later, Fleur arrives to escort me to Le Café du Soleil for the interview. Before I could head out, Gustav came up to me, balancing a painting on his back, “Sir, Mr. Brush has disappeared.”

I raised an eyebrow, “What do you mean? I thought you said that he was already planning to leave wasn’t he?”

“I know, except he didn’t tell anypony that he left. Not only that, but we found his uniform folded up on his bed along with this on top. I’ve been looking for him, even asked around but he’s overall vanished.”

“Oh dear, you don’t mean to say that he just quit without turning in his resignation?”

“I’m not sure; I admit that I find this unusual. Perhaps, if I may suggest we ought to organize a search party to see where he’s gone to.”

“Why? This is the only home he knows; maybe he’s just going on a walk or something.”

“I would assume so if it weren’t for what he left behind.”

Now my attention turned to what Gustav was carrying. Lighting up my horn, I lifted up the still drying painting.

Only, unlike all the others, this one was only half painted. The picture has been painted while the other was a sketch that was angrily scratched over by a pencil. On the left was Acrylic himself. Behind him was a nightly background of dark and light shades of blue with yellow dotted stars; as for the Artist himself, with strokes of earthy reds and browns with a mane of ghostly white, gray and yellow. Yet, the gaze of his dark yellow eyes looked over to the right, as if asking for relief. I could see that on his right shoulder there were thick, black brushstrokes that gave an outline of a comforting hoof.

It was on the right hoof of the canvas, however, that really got my attention. From the mad scribbles that mostly tried to deface, there were outlines of a suit, and as I gaze at the main source of the frustrated lines, I could barely make out a kind smile… a mustache… and a monocle.

“Oh dear… I can see why for the concern. Gustav, call everypony from downstairs and organize that search party. Make sure that Mr. Brush is found and bring him back to the house. I think the two of us need to have a talk.”

“Right away sir.”

_*_

What I ended up doing was I took another painting to be photographed for the interview. I did this because I didn’t want the general public to think that Acrylic was troubled mentally. Which was why I brought with me the painting of the street viewed from outside of the mansion.

At the café, I met up the reporter for the Canterlot Times, Extra Scoop. I could always rely on her to getting the word out of new artists and events that would attract the elite of the city. A lively, yet curious mare in forest green is interested to know to the hour to find out what is going on in the city.

“Hey Fancy,” she waved as we gain near the outside tables. As expected, she had with her tape recorder to capture our conversation and her camera. “How’ve you been?”

“Good afternoon Ms. Scoop,” I and Fleur sat down. “I must say that I’ve been keeping myself rather busy, and I’m quite excited about tomorrow.”

“Wanted to get straight to it, huh?” she smiled. “Now do you wanted to start when the food gets here or do you want to do it now?”

“I was hoping if you would take a picture of this first.” I levitated the painting onto the table and have it rest on the umbrella pole.

Extra grabbed her camera, “Ooh! Is this one of the paintings that are going on display?”

“Of course, I want to give your readers a taste of what to expect at the exhibition.”

She took the camera into her aura as she angled the painting just so that it was just right before it flashed, “I must say Mr. Pants, this is an impressive painting. It’s something that I would hang in my apartment.”

“Perhaps we ought to jump right into the interview.”

“Oh, right,” one of the buttons on the recorder was pressed down in which the white wheels on the tape started to move, “So Mr. Pants, who’s the artist behind this painting?”

“His name is Acrylic Brush, he’s a thirty-two-year-old earth pony that specializes in Post-Impressionistic paintings of his own style.”

“So how come this Acrylic isn’t here with us for the interview?”

“I wanted to surprise him when I bring him to the gallery tomorrow.”

“Why the surprise?”

“You see, I order for what I’m planning on doing to make sense, you must understand something about Mr. Brush. You see, he immigrated to Equestria in hopes to make a name for himself here. However, as much as he worked hard at his art, he was never given the chance to become known as he got closer to Canterlot. He spent his bits in paints, brushes, and canvases, but he had no luck sealing his art. By the time he came here, he was not only broke but was homeless for a time.”

“So if that was true, how did you encounter him?”

“I was riding home in a taxi with Fleur here when he threw out a painting into the garbage. We managed to save the painting in which we’ll have it on display at the exhibition. Since it was such a high quality of art, we decided to track this bloke down in which we’ve found him behind a dumpster believe it or not. There he was, jobless, homeless, and down on himself, and when asked if he painted that picture, he said that not only he did, but he thought all his paintings that came before was terrible!”

“Oh my, you mean that for somepony who’ve painted this,” she pointed at the painting on the table, “thought that he was bad at art?”

“Hence for the main reason why I wanted to surprise him,” I said. “Ever since I’ve given him a place to sleep, a job and given him the time to work on his paintings, I have seen him create masterpieces in the past month that he considers them to be worthless, childish drawings. He doesn’t really see that his paintings have any value, and I want to not only change his perspective but show that there are ponies out there that would really like his style.”

“I see… Now you’ve said that you’ve given him a job, is that right?” I nodded, “What does he do now besides making these?”

“Well, at the time I was understaffed at my home, so I offered him to take the position of a hoofcolt in order to rebuild his life.” There was the sound of galloping hooves on the quiet street, I looked and saw a couple of police officers rushing by. Shrugging, I added, “Anyway, I must say that Mr. Brush has been a very good employee who learns quickly and has been courteous to everyone there.”

“So how would you describe Acrylic Brush as a pony since he’s working for you for…?”

“About over a month. Mr. Brush is a hard worker and he’s been painting every day when he’s not on duty. I’ve come to know him as very talented, humble, could get very philosophical when he wants to, a genius of colors to the point where it’s poetic and has a marvelous sense of humor once you get him in a good mood.”

“So what do you hope to accomplish from this exhibition in the long run?”

“I hope to give the fellow a chance to give him a reputation as an artist. His art has gone unfairly unnoticed, and if all goes well, he would get commissions other than me so he would have plenty to not only rebuild his life but to earn a spot in the artistic community.”

“Uh-huh. So is the exhibition at the Cinder Gallery again?”

I smiled, “There’s none another place I would prefer to introduce a genius.”

“SIR!” The three of us looked up to find my butler galloping up to us, completely out of breath.

“Gustav?” I raised an eyebrow, “What’s wrong?”

He slowed down when he got to the table. Heaving, he said, “Sir… I have… some good… news… and bad…”

“Is it Acrylic?” Fleur asked and he nodded.

“We know… where he is.”

“So why are you out here?” I asked.

“Look up.”

I saw Extra gazed up to where my butler was looking at, her jaw drop and took a picture. Fleur did so shortly after, only to gasp and cover her muzzle. A grim curiosity made me turn around to look up at the tall buildings down the street…

Oh Celestia… Is that…?

I think my monocle fell out of my eye at what I saw. There right underneath the face of a clock two stories large was a stallion that sat there right on the edge looking down. He was an earth pony who has a gray mane, tail and a deep red coat.

Standing up, I was made self-aware that my jaw was on the ground. “Oh goddesses!” I shouted, turning to my bodyguard, “We need to go, now!”

We galloped to the Mountain Mist Hotel, pushing through the crowd forming right underneath Acrylic with only one thought in my head… Why?

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